Pontypool. I Surrender. For Now.

Pontypool Changes EverythingI really wanted to love this book. I truly did, but I don’t.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I am wildly crazy in love with the movie…and the book is not the same as the movie. At least not yet. I am at page 160 out of 280 and the main character from the movie has just appeared in the book. This doesn’t work for me. Even if the second half of the novel is the same storyline as the movie, it won’t work for me — because I don’t like knowing all about the zombies before we go into that part of the story.

The descriptions in this book are beautiful…well, often grotesque, but beautifully-written. For example (warning, profanity and ya know, horror-y stuff below:

“What the fuck? Hey! Is somebody in here?”

Les grabs one of the plastic jugs. The side has been cut away. Les turns the opening upward. It holds a crazy tiara of stingers; bright, gleaming needles fill the space. Never touch us, don’t even look at us for very long. When the door opens behind him, Les swings the jug, releasing a swarm of tiny missles across a man’s face and chest. The needles grab skin with their tips, and some, pushed by the weight of other  syringes, are plunged deeper. The view from inside this man’s body would appear something like the night sky in the city, thousands of stars becoming visible. In the countr, millions. One of the needles slides precisely into his tearduct, destroying its tiny architecture before burrowin far enough to permanently ruin the man’s ability to narrow his eyes. This particular jab also causes the man to flip a gun out of his hand. The gun slams heavily against the back of the toiler, cracking it, and then spins halfway around the rim before being carried to the bottom by the weight of its handle. The man collapses against the wall, disbelieving — you don’t just do that — and he watches Les retreive the weapon from the bowl.

The first thing to exit the gun is a twist-tie drool of toilet water. The second is a speeding bullet.

I love it. I really do. In fact, the descriptions are so fantastic throughout this novel (at least what I’ve read of it) that I would happily forgive it for not being the movie I adore and enjoy it on its own merits…if it weren’t so much work. Now, perhaps I’m biased because I’m struggling through a literature course for my degree right now. The stories and poems I have to read for it are work. I don’t understand much of them at first reading and have to re-read and re-read and then read interpretations of them. It’s work. I suspect that course is also influencing my enjoyment of Pontypool Changes Everything because it too, requires some work for me.

This is why I’m only giving up on reading it for now. I hope to come back to it in a few weeks or months and read it and see if I like it better, but for now, it’s work.

I thought, at first, maybe I’m just not smart enough to get this, but Jo said it was work for him too, and he’s pretty clever, so…maybe it’s just meant to be confusing…or work…

In the morning, children in full hockey gear skate across the purple and red ice, weaving around an obstacle course of tan corpses. Several of the dear stand frozen, and the children cut down all but two. They become the opposing nets of a makeshift hockey rink. A heart thawed over a small fire is used to draw the centre line and goal creases. A great deal of time is spent disembowelling the baby creatures so that their frozen feces can be used as pucks; however, having never eaten, their little bodies are as clean as packaged straws. The children settle for the mother’s hoof, which twists off easily.

Again, another beautifully-written grotesque scene…but…is it real? Within the story I can’t tell if this is meant to be read literally or if it’s meant to be a metaphor for something, or if Tony Burgess just thought it was awesome and had to include it. I, too, think it’s awesome, but it confuses me. It’s how a chapter starts…and right after this bit the story switches to something completely unrelated and this deer/hockey scene isn’t mentioned again (that I can remember off-hand). I just don’t get it.

So again, I hope to come back to Pontypool Changes Everything sometime sooner rather than later and I hope I can write a glowing review at that time, but for right now I’m mostly just left scratching my head.

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